The core of any marketing strategy begins with establishing an objective. Given the nature of the restaurant business, customer acquisition and retention are the key objectives. Customer acquisition can be expensive and involves additional efforts by the owners, managers, and marketing team.
Customer retention, however, is not only a less expensive strategy but also one that has proven results. In fact, according to an article on Upserve, a 5% increase in customer loyalty can lead to a 100% increase in profits! With this in mind, it’s prudent to make guest retention the backbone of your marketing strategy.
Here are some tips on how to ensure that your marketing efforts can lead to customer loyalty:
Switch to A Smarter Plan
The first thing you can do is implement a smart marketing plan. Align your staff and marketing teams to work towards achieving customer retention goals. This will ensure regular profits for your business, which in turn will provide you with the capital you need to pursue customer acquisition.
Switching to a plan that focuses on customer retention and loyalty is key, especially if your budget is limited. Rather than chasing many goals, narrowing down to one goal — boosting loyalty — will help you in the long run.
Remember, Everyone Loves A Good Reward
Making your customers feel special is a great way of promoting loyalty. Loyalty programs are a tried and tested method of doing just that. Consider giving your guests a little something “on the house” every few times they visit your restaurant. For instance, many ice cream parlors give customers a free scoop every tenth visit. Personalized merchandise — like coasters, badges or mugs — also go a long way in creating a recall for your restaurant, reminding customers to come back often.
Other types of loyalty programs include rewarding customers with points. As stated in this article on ways to build customer loyalty, “Reward your customers with double the points if they visit your restaurant two days in a row, or five times the points if they invite a friend to join the loyalty program. The more points or rewards your customers earn, the more they’ll want to come back to earn more points.”
Another hack for retaining customers is also a simple one: quality assurance. Be sure to conduct quality assurance tests that allow you to reinforce the benefits of the service you are providing. After all, nothing makes someone come back to a restaurant like the assurance of amazing food!
Quality assurance is a long-term investment that will help build brand value for your restaurant business. It can also help you understand what things aren’t working for your business. Quality assurance lets you detect loopholes in your larger plan or even in particular aspects of your business, like specific recipes on the menu. Understanding the preferences of your guests and matching their expectations through quality assurance can go a long way in creating loyalty.
Build a Community, Not Just a Database
Keeping guests loyal over long periods of time can be quite a challenge. One way to up your odds is by creating a customer journey map to understand their experience. Explore how the design of your restaurants affects them, how they feel about the service, how they respond to the food, and what they finally take away from the entire experience.
Once you understand your guests, it becomes easier to integrate them into your community. Guests who feel as though they are a part of your community — and not simply just another name on the list — are more likely to stay loyal.
Methods for promoting community include training to your staff to build one-on-one relationships with regulars and keeping in touch with customers about the latest news and developments at your restaurant. Consider using social media to engage with your guests, and ensure that your social media accounts are relevant, gripping and relatable. In a previous article, we’ve written about how to harness the power of email, giving your customers yet another reason to enjoy a meal with you.
To further foster a sense of community, consider initiating a program where customers get rewarded for referring someone to your restaurant. A free drink or dessert is a great gesture to show appreciation. Eventually, this tactic will also result in a group of referred customers who can potentially be retained.
Ultimately, driving your marketing strategy towards customer retention can yield great profits. Identifying regulars, rewarding them in various ways, and conducting quality assurance can go far in getting your customers to return. Building a community will help promote loyalty and show customers you really care. Eventually, your own marketing efforts will lead to new customers through word-of-mouth marketing by your regulars. Customer retention, therefore, can work in favor of customer acquisition as well! The newly acquired customers are then yours to turn into regulars through the same marketing tactics!